myth of managment

    Making decision is, om the one hand, one of the most fastinating
    mamifestations of biological activity and, on the other hand, a matter
    of terrifying for the whole of the human race. Althought this activity
    is both fascinating and awesome, it is difficult to find a satisfactory
    name for it in any of the common languages. In English we use terms as
    manager, administrator, executive or simple decision maker. Yet each of
    these terms fails someone to capture the true significance of the human
    being. Because we need a label to conduct our discussion, I shall risk
    choosing the term manager and being to say some things that will
    generalize on this term beyond its ordinary usage in English.
     The manager is the  man who decides among alternative choises. He must
    decide which choise he believes will lead to a certain desired
    objectives. But his decision is not an abstract one, because it creates
    a type  of reality. The maneger  is the man with the magic that enables
    him to create in the world a state of affairs that would not have
    occured except for  him. We say that the manger is one who has the
    authority to make such choices. He is also a person who has the
    responsibility for the choises he has made in the sense that rest of
    his fellow men may judge wheter he should be rewarded or punished for
    his choises; he is the person who justifiably is the object of praise
    or blame.
      So broad a description of the manager makes managers of us all. It is
    a common failing of the labels that language  applies  to  things  that
    they may be generalized to encompass everything, as  philosophers  have
    long recognized in the case of such labels as matter and mind. It takes
    no great sophomoric talent to see that the world  is  basically  matter
    and that everything could be reduced thereto.  Nor  does  it  take  any
    great astuteness to see that everything a human  being  recognizes  any
    great astuteness to see that everything a  human  being  recognizes  as
    natural reality os the product of some mind or collection of minds. So,
    too, the label manager may become appropriately applied to  practically
    everything or at least to every human, once we describe the manager  as
    someone having the authority and responsibility for making  choises.  I
    am interested in the broad aspect of desicion making, but  for  present
    purposes I want to add  one  more  stipulation  that  makes  the  label
    manager less general. This is the stipulation that managerial  activity
    take place witthin a system: The manager must  concern  himself  with
    interrelated parts of a complex arganization of activities, and  he  is
    responsible for the effectiveness of the whole system...
     But even this further stipulation concerning  the  use  of  the  label
    manager permits us to discribe many activities  as  management.  It  is
    true that in history of England and United States, the term  management
    has often been narrowed to mean tha managing of mean  the  managing  of
    industrial activities especially for the purpose of  generating  profit
    for an enterprise. In the  connection  management  is  contrasted  with
    labor. In government actievities our  use  of  term  manager  is  often
    labelled administrator, and  the  term  executive  is  often  used   to
    describe people who are given the legal authority to put into  practice
    the law of the land. All these activities, wheter they be at the  level
    of goverment or industry or education or health, or  whatever,  have  a
    common groind which we wish to explore. The common ground is the burden
    of making choises about system improvement and  the  responsibility  of
    responding to the choises made in a human envirovement in  which  there
    is bound to be opposition to what the manager  has  decided.  Thus  the
    head of a labor union, the state legislator. The head  of  a  goverment
    agency, the foreman of a shop are all managers in our sense.  So  is  a
    man in his own family a manager; so is the captain of a football  team.
    Probably all of us some time or other  in  our  lifes  become  managers
    when, because  of  oppointment  to  a  committee   or  because  of  our
    political activities, we take on the authority  and  responsibility  of
    making decisions in complex system. Managing is an activity of which we
    are all aware, and its consequences concern each one of us.
     I said that managers must  bear  the  burden  of  the  burden  of  the
    decisison they make. I could have added, in more optimistic tone,  that
    they enjoy the pleasure accompanying to make  decisions.  And  certanly
    many managers in today`s society  do  find  a  great  deal  of  phychic
    satisfaction in the role they play which society so clearly  recognizes
    as important and which it credits with a great deal of prestige.
     Noe managing is a type of behavior, and since it`s  a  very  important
    type of behavior, you might expect that we know a great deal about  it.
    But we don`t at all. We could also  explore  the  many  ways  in  which
    managers often think they manage, but observes of their behavior  often
    from them quite radically. The manager is frequently astonished to hear
    sociologist`s description of  his  activities,  which  he  believes  he
    himself knows so well, and he resent the inclination on the part of the
    detached scientist to try to describe the activity that he performs.
     Imagine an observes carefully trained to study such activities as bees
    in a hive, or fish in a school, or birds in a flock, and suppose such a
    student of nature becomes curious about the behavior of judges during a
    trial. How might such a scientist  describe  what  the  jugde  actually
    does? He might learn a little bit from some of the  reflective  judges,
    and perhaps a little bit more from the sociologist and other scientists
    who have attempted to describe legal behavior, but he would  find  that
    most of the activity remains a huge to the whole of humanity-a  mystery
    that no one has ever felt inclined to investigate in detail.
     The whole activity of managing, importrant as  it  is  for  the  human
    race, is still largely an unknow aspect of the natural world. When  man
    detaches himself and tries to observe what kind of living animal he is,
    finds that he knows very little about the things most important to  him
    and precious little about his role as a decision maker Few managers are
    capable of describing how they reach  their  decision  in  a  way  that
    someone else can understand; few can tell us how they  feel  about  the
    decisions once they have been made. Of course,  despite  our  ignorance
    about managerial phenomena, a great deal is written on the  subject  in
    popular magazines and managerial journals. It appears that the less  we
    know about subject, the more we are inclined to write extensively about
    it with great cinviction. Some writings describe  the  variuos  rituals
    folowed in organizations proir and posterior to the  actual  managerial
    decision. But most of these description pay  little  attention  to  the
    very puzzling question of when a decision actually occured and who made
    it. A great deal is said about committee deliberations and other aspect
    of organizational rationality that go into the making  of  a  decision,
    and the many checks and control that are exerted to  determine  whether
    the decisions have been made properly. Much attention is paid to  these
    aspect of organizational decision making, because they show up  on  the
    surface, so to speak. But the facts that a  committee  deliberated  for
    three hours and then a decision emerged do not tell  us  who  made  the
    decision, how it was or when it was made. It might be  added  that  the
    verbal assertion of the committee often do not tell us what decision is
     So there is a great mystery of the natural world: the who, when,  how,
    and what of man`s decision making.
     But even if we were to succeed in discovering a great deal  more  than
    we have about management, the result would be at best  descriptive.  It
    would be merely the background of the basic problem before us,  namely,
    the question of how the manager should decide.
     Am I right in claiming that we know so little about management?  After
    all, most of us are quite willing, even eager, to prise  and  complain.
    We don`t hesitate to say that some men are better managers than others.
    We are constantly criticizing our political  leaders.  Biographers  are
    accustomed to choose the most outstanding leaders of the age  as  the
    subject of their texts. These leaders may be great  political  leaders,
    leaders of industry, leaders of social movement, of  religion,  and  so
    on. What is the quality these men of success have that less  successful
    colleagues lack? Since we believe we can identify successful leaders,
    surely we also believe we know a great deal about what a manager should
    decide. For example, in the case of the President of the United States,
    we are told in our school-boy text that we can readily  recognize  that
    some of these Presidents were great and some of them far from  great.
    What is the quality of greatness that we are led to ascribe to some  of
    these presidents?
     A ready answer is at hand-the  succesful  and  great  Presidents  were
    those who made decisions that today we clearly recognize to be correct,
    and those who made these decions in the face of severe  opposition.  We
    are led to believe that the activity of great presidents is a marvelous
    example of succesful decisin making in large complex systems.
     But the skeptics among us will find this answer  quite  unsatisfactory
    as an explanation of what constites greatness in  a  Pesident.  In  the
    first place, history has no record of what would have happened had  the
    opposition`s point of view succeeded or if  serious  modifications  had
    been made in the choises of the so-called great Presidents. What if the
    Union had not been saved, or  or  our  independence  declared?  History
    seems only to  have  recorded  the  episodes  that  followed  upon  the
    particular decision that was made and  does  vot  provide  us  with  an
    analysis of event that might have occured if an  alternative  had  been
     More curios still is the implict that  assumption  that  a  successful
    President made his great decision on the basis of  his  own  particular
    abilities. Since evidence is so often lacking that great Presidents  of
    the past had these abilities, there is a  natural  inclination  on  the
    part of many of us to ascribe either determinism or randomness  to  the
    activities  of   so-called  successful  managers.  In   the   case   of
    determinism, we might argue that the events of the world occur  by  the
    accidental conglomeration of many forces unknown to  man  these  forces
    produce decision that man in his innocence believes that  he  himself
    makes. The decision of independence in  1776  was,  according  to  this
    view,  simply  the  outgrowth  of  many  complex  human  and   physical
    interrelationships. Those who adopt the idea of randomness  simply  add
    to the physical determinism of events a random fluctuation of the  sort
    occuring in a roulette wheel or in the shuffling of  cards.  The  would
    then be willing to admit that other decision might have  been  made  in
    1776 or later, but that these decision would  be  very  much  like  the
    outcome of another spin of the roulette wheel. In either event,  wheter
    we choose to describe the world of decision making as determinism or as
    randomness, we conclude that ascribing greatness to the decision makers
    in Independence Hall would be a mistake unless one meant  by  greatness
    some recognizable features of the determined or  randomevents  occuring
    in the world. By analogy one might say  that  the  man  who  spins  the
    roulette wheel is its manager who decides nothing about  the  outcome
    of spins; a multitude of hidden physical  forces  determine  where  the
    wheel will stop. Calling a President great is like calling the  spinner
    of a roulette wheel that happens to have a satisfactory result a  great
     This is certainly a crass and  impolite  way  to  describe  the  great
    managerial minds of the past. Surely we can do more for their  memories
    than describe them as irrelevant aspects of the history of society.  We
    might try ro look into the story og their lives to find  evidence  that
    they really had superior methods of deliberation. We might try to  show
    that they had the sort  of  brilliance  and  courage  that  creates  an
    ability  to  handle  confusing  pieces  of  information  and  to  reach
    approprite decisions. Perphaps the great manager is an extremely  adept
    information processor who can act so rapidly that  he  himself  is  not
    even aware of the comparisons and computations he has made.
     Indeed, this last is more or less the the popular image of  the  great
    manager. For example, many scientists who advice politicians, corporate
    msnsgers, and other  decision  makers  often  state  that  they  cannot
    possibly attempt to tell such men what decision should be made. At best
    they can merely tell the decision maker about certain outcomes  if  the
    decision are adopted. Thus the more among  the  advisers  believe  that
    they have mo intent of   replacing the managers they advise. And  yet
    if these scientific advisers are capable of  discering  at  least  some
    aspects of the managerial decision, what is it they luck? What are they
    incapable of doing that the politician and  corporate  manager  are  so
    succesful in accomplishning? What is  this  secret  ingredient  of  the
    great president of vorporations, universities, and  countries  that  no
    scientiat or ordinary man could ever hope to acquire?
     The answer usually given is that the president has  information  about
    many different aspects of the world and has ability to put these aspect
    together in a way that no analysis could possibly do. In  other  words,
    he has a vision of the whole system and can relate the effectiveness of
    the parts to the parts effectiveness of the whole. The hidden secret of
    the great manger, so goes  the  myth,  is  the  ability  to  solve  the
    puzzling problems of whole systems that we have been discussing so far.
     This answer is myth, because it is totally unsatisfactory to reasoning
    of intellectually curious person. Are  great  managers  fantastically
    high speed-data processors? Do  great  managerial  minds  outstrip  any
    machinery now on the market or contemplated for decades to  come?  From
    what we know of the brain and its capabilities, the answer seems to  be
    no. Indeed, it is  doubtful  whweter  the  great  manager  in  reaching
    decisions uses very much  of  the  information  he  has  received  from
    various sources. It is also doubtful wheter the manager scans  many  of
    the alternatives open to him.... We describe how the scientist, when he
    comes to grips with the problems of  decision  making,  discovers  that
    they can  only  be  reperesented  by  fairly  complicated  mathematical
    models. Even in fairly simple decision-making situations we  have  come
    to learn how complicated is the problem of developing a sensible way of
    using available information. It seems  incredible  that  the  so-called
    succesful managers  really  have  inbuilt  models  that  are  rich  and
    complicated enough to include the subtleties of large-scale systems.
     Suppose for the moment we  descend  from  the  lofty  heights  of  the
    decision makers in Independence Hall and the White House and  begin  to
    describe a  very  mundane  and  easily  recognized  managerial  problem
    cencerning the nember of tellers that should be available to  customers
    in a bank. All of us have experienced the annoyance  of  going  into  a
    bank in a hurry and spending a  leisurely  but  frustrating  half  hour
    behind the wrong line. How should the manager decide on the  allocation
    of tellers at various times of the day?
     This is fairly simple managerial problem amd its like  is  encountered
    by thousands of middle managers every day.  Furthermore,  this  problem
    has been studied  quite  extensively  in  operation  research  and  its
    solution is often found in the elementary texts. The texts  say  that
    the  scientist  should  try  to  answer  the  managerial  question   by
    considering both the inconvenience of the customers  who  wait  in  the
    lines and the possible idle time of  the  tellers  who  wait  at  their
    stations when  no  customers.  Thus  the  succesful  manager  can  be
    identified in an objective  way,  and  we  need  not  take  a  poll  of
    greatness or lack thereof to ascertain wheter the manager has performed
    well. The succesful manager will be someone who has  properly  balanced
    the two costs of the operation of servicing customers in  a  bank:  the
    cost of waiting customers and the cost of idle tellers. He will  insist
    that the cost of a nimute`s waiting of a customer in  a  line  must  be
    compared to a minute`s idle time of the teller. On the  basis  of  this
    comparison, together with suitable evidence conserning the arrival rate
    of customers and the time service each customer, the succesful  manager
    will determine the policy concerning allocation of  tellers  to  varios
    stations during the day. Perhaps no one will feel inclined to write the
    biography of so ordinary a man as the manager of a branch  of  a  local
    bank, but in any case if this manager decides according to the rational
    methods just outlined, his biographer may at least be honest about  his
     Nevertheless, the analysis just outlined leaves much  unanswered.  For
    example, an idle teller need not be idle while  waiting  at  a  station
    where are no customers. Instead he may be occupied with  other  routine
    matters  requiring  attention  in  the  administration  of  the   bank.
    Consequently, if the manager can design the  entire  operation  of  his
    banks many function properly, he may be able to decrease the  cost  of
    idle time of professional who are servicing customers. If  we  look  on
    the othwer side of  the  picture,  that  is,  the  inconvenience  to  a
    customer, we  may  find  that  in  fact  waiting  in  line  is  not  an
    inconvience at all if the customer  happens  to  meet  an  acquaintance
    there. Perhaps the manager should serve coffe and doughnuts to  waiting
    customers. Furthermore, if the manager could somehow or other  hope  to
    control the behavior of his customers, he might be  able  to  recognize
    their arrivals in such  a  way  that  inconvenience  costs  are  vastly
    reduced. Add to these considerations other innovations  that  might  be
    introduced: For example, in many cases banks set up Express Windows  to
    handle customers who would normally have very low servoce times. Hence,
    an overall average waiting time  may  not  make  senese  if  there  are
    different types of  service  tailored  to  the  various  needs  of  the
     But then another, broader consideration occurs  to  us:  Handling  the
    publics financial matters by branch banking methods may be  completely
    wrong. Modern technology may of developing financial servicing  methods
    far cheaper for both bank and customer. After all,  handling  cash  and
    checks is an extremly awkward way for a person to acquire  goods  at  a
    price. With adequately designed information centers, the retail markets
    need  only  input  information  about  a  customer  purchase,  and  the
    customers employers need only inputinformation about his income.  Thus
    every purchase would become simply a matter of centralized  information
    processing as woulod a mans weekly or monthly  paycheck.  There  would
    therefore be no real need for any of us to carry  money  about  and  no
    need to go to a bank and stand patintly  in  line.  But  this  idea  of
    automated purchasing  and  income  recording  is  followed  by  another
    thought. We realize that any  such  automated  finacial  sysytem  would
    probably end in eliminating a number of clearical and managerial  jobs.
    Consequently we must examine the social problems of displaced personnel
    and the need for retraining, otherwise total social costs of  automated
    banking might be far greater than the convenience gained by introducing
    new technology.
     Before we can decide  whweter  the  manager  of  the  branch  bank  is
    performing satisfactorily, we must decide a much broader issue-wheter
    the particular system that the manger operates is an  appropriate  one.
    This question leads to deeper consideration concerning the potential of
    modern technology and their inplications with  respect  to  automation,
    job training, and the future economics of many lives.